March 6, 2014
Some people seem to think that “racism” is entirely a white phenomenon. Of course that is not true. Whites are the least racist group in the United States, if not the world. Whites generally do what Martin Luther King claimed he wanted for his children, to be judged on the content of one’s character, not the color of one’s skin. This is as it should be. We will all be judged one day, so it is best to deal with people based on the content of their character.
Which is a good reason to profile based on group behavior as the atheist race-realist John Derbyshire so correctly advised. We also know that even black Americans know that their fellow blacks are more racist than whites.
But race is not a social construct and noticing is not an original sin of whites. It is the natural preference of any group for its own members, even if the “other” is a distant cousin.
The Diplomat by Mark Fenn February 21, 2014
Does Singapore have a problem with xenophobia? It seems that barely a month goes by these days without news reports highlighting friction between Singaporeans and foreign workers in the tiny, multi-ethnic city-state.
The population has increased dramatically in recent decades thanks to an influx of foreigners, who now make up around two out of five residents. This has put a growing strain on jobs, housing and infrastructure, and raised fears about the dilution of the Singaporean national identity.
It has also—predictably—resulted in an angry backlash, with many taking to social media to disparage foreign workers, from highly paid “foreign talent” to heavily exploited laborers from China and the Indian sub-continent.
(My emphases added throughout). And it is not just petty discrimination or a mere preference for one’s own. It is not the typical American reaction, which is “Can’t you just speak English?” It gets pretty vicious.
The abuse is often so vicious that in his 2012 national day rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted the proliferation of posts “tormenting and berating” foreigners, adding: “Very few people stand up to say this is wrong, shameful, we repudiate that. I think that is no good.”
It can even be directed against socially prestigious whites:
In the latest high-profile incident, British banker Anton Casey lost his job and was forced to flee the island last month with his wife — a former Miss Singapore Universe — and son. The hapless Casey received death threats after making sneering comments on Facebook mocking the “poor people” using public transport, though his comments probably had more to do with social class—a subject rarely discussed in Singapore — than with race per se.
Note that even today in the city-state where women are more liberated that mainland China, a Chinese ethnic former Miss Singapore finds white men are more desirable as marriage partners than her fellow Chinese. Obviously there are psycho-sexual issues there, given the shortage of Chinese Singaporean women available for Chinese Singaporean males.
The previous month saw a major backlash on social media after Indian and Bangladeshi workers rioted in Singapore’s Little India district, leading Lee to again warn against “hateful or xenophobic comments, especially online.”
Something my blog reported and endorsed. Rioting is not acceptable behavior and it is neither racist or xenophobic to object to such criminality.
Of more import, though, is the internalized definition of Singaporeanness.
Anyone familiar with Singapore knows that race is a national obsession, and far more than a box to be ticked on official forms. This obsession permeates the country, and Dr Michael Barr of Australia’s Flinders University argues that it is important to distinguish between racism within the mainstream of society and that directed at outsiders.
“Singapore is very racist even towards its own minorities, but this is mostly accepted by the minorities as the cost of living in a society that is safe and prosperous, and which they can genuinely call home,” says Dr. Barr, senior lecturer in international relations and the author of a forthcoming book on Singapore’s leadership.
He argues that after independence in 1963, the government of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew tried to break down the rigid racial divides inherited from the British, and to create a genuinely multiracial society.
But from the late 1970s it changed course, pushing instead to create a “Chinese” society with Indian and Malay minorities. From then on, race became “the major social identifier for Singaporeans,” and racism “a natural consequence of living in a society where racial stereotypes are encouraged and indulged by the government.”
The reality, of course, is that no national unity is possible based on multiculturalism. Just look at Yugoslavia.
“Unfortunately this has meant that in the 2000s and 2010s, just when foreign workers are moving into the front view of Singaporeans’ consciousness for the first time due to the government’s decision to flood the market with foreign workers, Singaporeans are already well-trained in racial stereotyping. They’ve had a lifetime’s training,” says Barr.
Not so much well trained as just being realists. Malays and Indians just aren’t as smart as Chinese, much less Singaporean Chinese. with average IQs of 92, 82, and 108 respectively. Singapore does not want to become a Detroit, much less a Bihar and Sabah.
Nor does it want to be Red China. Chinese Singaporeans are directing their vitriol against their racial cousins from the Mainland as well.
Yet the worst abuse is usually reserved for low-paid construction and service sector workers from China, India, Bangladesh and the Philippines. Mainland Chinese are known as “PRCs” — from the People’s Republic of China —and are often ridiculed for their poor English and perceived lack of social graces by the ethnic Chinese who make up around 75 percent of Singaporeans. Chinese bus drivers who staged an illegal strike in 2012 cited this discrimination as one of the reasons for their unhappiness.
Online forums are full of vicious comments about “PRC scum,” “foreign trash,” Filipino “cockroaches” and so on. An event held by Singaporeans in Sydney to celebrate the city-state’s national day last year attracted attention when locals and other foreigners were apparently refused entry. Summing up the siege mentality of many Singaporeans, one of the attendees wrote on a local blog afterwards that: “Everyone of us were on the same page. There were no PRCs, India Indians, Bangla or Pinoys [Filipinos] to annoy us.”
No mention, though, of how Chinese are treated by Singapore’s neighbors. Indonesians routinely riot, targeting Chinese, Christian Chinese, and Christians in general. Malaysia has an official race-based system that favors the bumiputra, sons of the soil, or more accurately Muslim sons of the soil, the Malay race over its ethnic Chinese, ethnic Indian, and Malay Christian citizens. So, it is in this milieu that one must judge Singaporeans.
Singaporeans are tougher on race than Americans, but they are not spilling blood or establishing their own Jim Crow system as in Indonesia and Malaysia respectively. Actually, Singapore’s race policy is quite rational and workable. No official discrimination, but letting the cream rise to the top. Or actually putting MLK’s prescription to work.
But IQ is a harsh mistress, and reality does set in. Better that Singapore’s immigrants accept their lot, it certainly is better than living in India, Indonesia, or Malaysia.
Interesting that the story revolves around complainers from India, Malaysia and the PRC. While the Pinoys just go about their work and lives, thankful to be out of the PI. I guess the Filipinos are smart enough to recognize a good thing. It probably helps that they have the support of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
However, as I’ve reported, Singapore’s leadership, despite its high IQ, does have problems, that of the Slave Power.
However, this growth has been achieved predominantly by adding labor input — importing foreign workers — rather than increasing the underlying productivity of home-grown workers. Foreigners now make up about 38 percent of the total population of 5.3 million. In 1990, that figure was 14 percent, when the total population was around 3 million.
Last year, a government policy paper called for the population to increase a further 30 percent by 2030, to 6.9 million, at which time immigrants would account for nearly half of the island’s population. Thousands of people attended two rare protests against the white paper, holding signs with slogans such as “Singapore for Singaporeans.”
Fueled by angry reactions on social media and websites critical of the government, the issue of immigration has become a political hot potato for the PAP. At the 2011 general election, opposition parties won six seats in Parliament — the most since independence.
Kenneth Jeyaretnam, leader of the opposition Reform Party, says there is “no minimum wage and no social safety net, so competition from immigrants has definitely depressed wages and reduced job prospects for Singaporeans.”
“All racism is at bottom economic, and Singapore is no different,” he told The Diplomat. “The rising population has raised the returns to the owners of fixed factors like land. Since the Singapore government owns 80 percent of the land, this benefits them. The surpluses generated from the growth of the economy and the higher population have not been used to compensate Singaporeans but instead gone to the accumulation of foreign assets in our SWFs [sovereign wealth funds].
“If we had a minimum wage and greater protections for our workers then there would be less objection to foreigners. Instead of that, we have senile old men like LKY [Lee Kuan Yew] talking about the need for more Darwinian competition and how admitting more foreigners acts as a spur in the sides of Singaporeans … The reaction to Anton Casey shows that Singaporeans increasingly see themselves as patsies who are being exploited by not very well educated or particularly talented foreigners. Resentment extends to foreigners at all levels and regardless of race, except perhaps for those doing the dirty and dangerous jobs for less than S$20 per day.”
Singapore is performing a delicate balancing act. It wants cheap labor, but wants to preserve the Chinese characteristics and not become another failed State. Therein lies the essential duality of Singapore.
It will need all of its high IQ to solve that problem. Good luck, as this blog supports the Lion City.
But the real lesson: race is real throughout the world. And so is IQ. It would be better that peoples at the lower end just accept that.